A short post (in a short month) about exclamation marks!

Updated: Mar 16

For those of us who are 3rd-3rd expressives, it’s easy for others to tell what sort of day we’re having: they can see the frustration on my face as I purse my lips or exhale loudly; they can tell from my body language as I tap, tap, tap my foot. I cross my arms and then turn first to the right, then to the left, then swivel back again in big movements, peering around to see “what the heck is going on with this line?”

Naturally, 1st-3rd expressives get impatient too, but you just show it differently, by simply turning and walking away from the slow-moving Starbuck’s line, or quietly reading your phone. It’s harder to tell what you 1st-3rd expressives are thinking because you’re a bit more selective in how you reveal yourself to the world. “Aren’t you frustrated?” I asked my friend one day, with exasperation over our food that was slow coming at the restaurant. “Of course I am,” she said softly, her head bobbing gently. But there really was no outward display of any aggravation.

It’s easy to confuse the energy associated with expressiveness with assertiveness. Take that painfully-slow Starbuck’s line again: my 2nd -3rd assertiveness is tricky. Sometimes I am bullish and brash and vocal. This is the energy that compels me to move people along because I want a faster pace to happen. But other times, my assertiveness is softer, and while my body language will still reveal my frustration, I may sometimes choose to not say anything to the barista.

When I’m passionate about something, (or, let’s face it, cranky or hangry), that’s often when I climb from 2nd-3rdto 3rd-3rd . Put that together with my 3rd-3rd body language, and everyone knows I want coffee and I want it now!

On a good day I can catch myself and tamp down my energy so I’m not so big and bossy, but if I’m not conscious about it, my energy can take over for me. In fact, sometimes I don’t even realize the little ways that my 3rd-3rd expressiveness comes out. For example, for the last year or so I’ve been actively editing my emails for exclamation marks. You might be wondering what exclamation marks have to do with Emergenetics, expressiveness, or energy. Well, I get so excited about communicating with clients, colleagues and friends by email, that I get a little exclamation mark happy! I was finding that I would send out emails where almost every sentence ended with an ! ! I thought that might come across as a bit off-putting to others who are more reserved, and I certainly didn’t want to come across as unprofessional or goofy, so I began to evaluate my energy in my emails. Now, in any given email that I send out, it’s gone through one or two edits to switch exclamation marks to periods. (By the way, I really wanted to put an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence).

Of course, as a 3rd-3rdflexible, I’ve instituted a new rule to help manage this exclamation mark dilemma: no more than 2 exclamation marks per email – with exceptions, of course. (These guidelines so rarely perfectly apply!)

When I actively seek to adapt my energy to the energy around me, this is the concept Emergenetics refers to as “flexing.” Flexing is understanding the impact (or potential impact) your behaviors may have on others who behave differently than you and then adapting your energy to fit theirs. It’s the height of self-awareness or Emotional Intelligence to realize that I impact others, and I can have more affect if I modify my preferences to meet the needs of others. It doesn’t mean I change who I am, because that really doesn’t happen. But it means that I can be agile and effective in any given situation. In this way, I build a bridge to the other person, rather than send them running the other direction.

What are the exclamation marks in your world? I challenge you to be mindful of how your preferred energy carries you through the day. Be proud of your unique energy but also consider how you can meet others half-way. By doing so, we can sustain a welcoming environment wherever we live or work.

Until next time!

Karen, A*SC323

PS: I think I counted 5 exclamation marks in this piece - not bad!

Karen Main is the Founder and CEO of Innovations in Training, a boutique consulting company that specializes in leadership development and team enrichment. She holds Advanced Certification in Emergenetics and would welcome working with you and your team. Reach her at 720-272-3433 or by email @ k_main@msn.com


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​© 2020 Karen Main for Innovations In Training.

Denver, CO, United States



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